One of the unfailing pleasures of a lengthy Seder, the Passover ritual dinner, is the “duty” to drink at least four full cups of wine during the evening.  Pleasure, that is, if we’re having a better-than-average Kosher wine.

Wine doesn’t have to be sweet to be Kosher, nor does it have to be pasteurized or necessarily come from Israel.  Kosher wines come in all sorts of varietals from around the world and has become an added source of brisk business from many a winery.

What enables a wine to receive the Kosher seal of approval, is the cleanliness of the dedicated equipment and machinery as well as the presence of a certified Sabbath-observant, orthodox Jew who must oversee the process, from crushing of the grapes to sealing the bottle.  Wine that is described as "kosher for Passover" must have been kept free from contact with grain, bread and dough.

Because wineries have to schedule this process before they go ahead with their own production, the harvest is set a few days earlier and as a result Kosher wines may have a lower alcohol content than their non-Kosher counterpart – not necessarily a bad thing if you remember to drink the four cups.

Two delicious  Kosher wines have come to my attention. One a red Bordeaux blend from Haut-Médoc, France, the other a Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley in Sonoma County.


img_0512Barons Edmond Benjamin de Rothschild Kosher 2011, Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux, France ($30 - $50)img_0510

A classic Brodeaux blend, 60% Merlot and 40% Carbernet Sauvignon, from six hectares planted in clay and chalky soil,  this wine spent 12 months in French oak barrels according to the tradition of great Bordeaux. And like traditionally good wines from Haut-Médoc, it is very elegant, well-balanced and complex, not too fruit driven, with a touch of minerality and a wonderful finish.  Not too ripe, no super tannins and lower alcohol (13%), it pairs beautifully well with every food.  Retails  at Total Wine.

Herzog Special Reserve 2010, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley Sonoma, CA ($30 - $50) 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine exhibits all the characteristics of Cabernet with blackberry, black cherry and licorice on the nose.  Aged for 18 months in oak it offers a luxurious mouth feel with silky layers of mocha and vanilla, and intriguing notes of spices and cedar, with round tannins tempered with a good acidity and a good alcohol content (14%).  Pairs well with meats: rib eye, brisket, lamb roast; stews and vegetable casseroles.  Retails at